Hamilton Centre David Christopherson announced his plans to retire from elected office at the end of his present term as a Member of Parliament. The announcement was posted to his website Thursday afternoon.
“It has been my distinct honour to have served as the councillor for Ward 4, the Member of Provincial Parliament for Hamilton Centre and now as the federal Member of Parliament for Hamilton Centre,” Christopherson wrote in his statement. “I truly love our city and the people who call it home. To have earned the trust and confidence of the people of Hamilton for so many years is truly humbling and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to join with so many dedicated people working to help build a stronger, more fair and diverse community.”
Christopherson’s retirement will cause a cascade in Hamilton politics as the Hamilton Centre federal seat will be hotly contested next year. (The Public Record will leave that speculative story to another day)
First elected in 1985 to the Ward 4 seat of Hamilton City Council, Christopherson quickly established himself as a great orator and champion of social democratic causes.
A man of deep conviction, Christopherson would break from his party and political ranks when he believed on principle it was the right thing to do. Most recently, Christopherson stood up for “Canadians’ right to disagree with the laws that they have to obey” and voted against the federal Liberal’s Canada Summer Jobs attestation. Christopherson was the NDP MP to do so, and was demoted within his party caucus for doing so. The demotion was quickly reversed.
Christopher served on City Council for five years. He ran for provincial parliament in 1990, easily winning election in Hamilton Centre as part of the Bob Rae NDP wave that year. He served in the Ontario Cabinet, Premier Rae appointed him as Minister of Correctional Services, and later added Solicitor-General to his portfolio.
In 1995, pundits thought all of Hamilton’s provincial NDP seats were safe except one. At the end of election night on that June 8, the safe seats were lost, and the rookie in Hamilton Centre was the only NDP MPP in Hamilton.
He held on by a narrow 690 vote margin, but in the context of the NDP rout that night, his thin margin became the stuff of mythology.
Christopherson would be easily re-elected in 1999.
In 2003, Christopherson did not seek reelection as MPP, he ran for Mayor of the City of Hamilton. He would suffer the only electoral defeat of his career in that Mayoral race as Larry DiIanni won 70,500 votes to Christopherson’s 54,300. The 2003 election was a de-facto referendum on the Red Hill Valley Parkway, with DiIanni in favour and Christopherson opposed.
In 2004, Christopherson ran for federal parliament in one of the most watched races in the country. He took on four-term MPP and Minister of National Revenue Stan Keyes in the new redistributed riding of Hamilton Centre (Keyes represented the dissolved riding of Hamilton West). Christopherson won overwhelmingly with 46% of the vote. Christopherson would go on to win re-election in 2006, 2008, 2011, and most recently in 2015.
Christopherson will serve as Hamilton Centre MP until after the scheduled October 21, 2019 federal election.